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Why only two ordinances?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by MikeinGhana, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. Johnv

    Johnv New Member

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    Never said they were.

    I never said they had to hold to the distinctives as I do. I said they had to hold to them.

    Not the way we might, but they do hold to them.

    Not the way we might, but they do hold to them.
    No, but they do hold to them.
     
  2. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303 Active Member

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  3. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    John, would you clarify your position as it relates to this thread, particularly feet washing? The so-called Baptist distinctives acrostic says there are "Two ordinances". Do you believe that all the Baptists past and present who have held that there are three ordinances are not Baptists? Do you believe the churches and members of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, who called singing and laying on of hands ordinances in articles 23 and 31 of their confession of faith, were not Baptists? If so, why? If not, why not? Thanks.
     
  4. Johnv

    Johnv New Member

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    I don't think Baptists shoudl accept foot washing or anything else as an additional ordinance. However, engaging in the custom as a commemoration is perfectly acceptible.
     
  5. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    In relation to the topic at hand, some might be interested in singing of Psalms and laying on of hands from the Philadelphia Confession.

    The entire confession can be found here:
    Philadelphia Confession of Faith
     
  6. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    I think you're on to something there. The earliest English Baptist documents sometimes use the term "ordinance" and sometimes don't. The Helwys Confession does not specifically list any "ordinances:" except to say "magistracy is a Holy ordinance of God." The 1660 Standard Confession does not use the term at all.

    Perhaps the emphasis on two ordinances is the result of the influence of Reformed theology — both Lutheranism and Calvinism reduced the number of sacraments from seven to two. Conversely, it is possible that addition of ordinances (or reduction in the number of ordinances, in some cases) was a reaction against the Magisterium of Calvinism and Lutheranism by the radical Baptists.

    (The Westminister Confession, upon which the 1689 London Baptist Confession is based, mentions only two sacraments. This is one section the Baptists had to throroughly rewrite; sacramentalism was abandoned, but not the number of ceremonies.)

    The Philadelphia Confession was not the first to add to the list: John Gill's Carter-Lane Declaration said "singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs vocally, is an ordinance of the Gospel, to be performed by believers; but that as to time, place, and manner, every one ought to be left to their liberty in using it."

    On the other hand, A.H. Newman found no written documentation for feet-washing as an ordinance in the first three centuries.

    Personally, I would not consider non-Baptist those churches that consider feet-washing an ordinance, though I do think the passage should be interpreted figuratively.
     
  7. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    BTW, there are also the Six Principle Baptists, which neatly avoid "ordinance" altogether and instead subsume baptism, the Lord's Supper and laying on of hands under the principles.
     
  8. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    I have just purchased the book Footwashing in John 13 and the Johannine community, by John Christopher Thomas. I haven't reached the historical part yet (as far as early church practice), but I'll try to remember to report back to you if he records anything interesting.
     
  9. MikeinGhana

    MikeinGhana New Member

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    So what constitutes an ordinance? Is it that Jesus commanded it? Is it that Jesus did it?
     
  10. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Mike, those are good questions, for which we might have trouble finding a suitable answer strictly from the Scriptures. If Jesus' command or the fact that Jesus did it constitutes an ordinance, are there not more than two?

    What constitutes an ordinance? For perspective, here are what some others think.

    Ordinances are..."institutions of divine authority relating to the worship of God; particularly Baptism (Matthew 28:19); the Lord's Supper (I Cor 11:24, etc.). Besides these ordinances the following are sometimes placed in this category: public ministry, or preaching and reading the word; hearing the word; public prayer; singing of psalms; fasting; thanksgiving." - Unger's Bible Dictionary (some scripture references left out to save typing)

    "An ordinance is seen as a ceremony, or rite, which Jesus prescribed to be performed by His church. The criteria for the ordinances, as for other church practices/beliefs, is: (1) was it taught or alluded to by Jesus; (2) was it practiced by the apostolic church (mentioned in Acts); and, (3) is it expounded on and reinforced in the Epistles." - Lou Correia, Calvary Chapel of Sacramento

    Ordinances: "visible signs of invisible grace" - Augustine

    Ordinance "refers to a divinely instituted rite which conveys truth through its symbolism." - Davis W. Huckabee, Studies on Church Truth

    "Ordinance 1. An authoritative command or order. 2. A custom or practice established by long usage. 2. A Christian rite, especially the Eucharist." - American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

    Perhaps my main thought is that our approach to ordinances is somewhat like this: We see that baptism and the Lord's supper are types or symbols that stand out far above any others in the New Testament, from feet washing to the holy kiss. Then we try to find ways to define and categorize this so as to make them stand out. Actually this is what those who have gone before us have done, and we accept their work without a lot of further thought.
     
  11. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    I started a new historical thread here:

    Feet washing in early Christian contexts
     
  12. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    If Jesus wasn't thinking "guys, I can't really enjoy this meal while you all have those pungent patties squished between your toes and smeared on your soles", just what was He thinking?

    If we stick with the text, it is obvious that Jesus did not have ruminant-al road tar on His mind when He washed His disciples' feet. This scene plays out in the shadow of the cross. Before the sovereign Lord of the universe made Himself lower than a servant to stoop at His disciples feet, what was He thinking? Something like this:

    John 13:1-5 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

    Jesus, knowing that He was come from God and went to God, rose from supper and washed His disciples' feet.

    Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, rose from supper and washed His disciples' feet.

    Jesus, knowing that the devil had put into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray him, rose from supper and washed His disciples' feet.

    Jesus, having loved His own, He loved them unto the end, rose from supper and washed His disciples' feet.

    Jesus, knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world, rose from supper and washed His disciples' feet.
     
  13. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    I think you're right. The quote from Correia that "An ordinance is seen as a ceremony, or rite, which Jesus prescribed to be performed by His church. The criteria for the ordinances, as for other church practices/beliefs, is: (1) was it taught or alluded to by Jesus; (2) was it practiced by the apostolic church (mentioned in Acts); and, (3) is it expounded on and reinforced in the Epistles," is a circular definition; it seems to assume baptism and communion are ordinances, then defines ordinances in such a way as to exclude almost everything except baptism and the Lord's Supper.

    (However ... the Baptists who insisted that singing psalms was an ordinance would be on fairly solid ground even with that definition, wouldn't they?)
     
  14. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Thanks, Stephen. I think you are correct and explained in a much better fashion that I. And, yes, I agree about singing psalms. That will fit Correia's definition.
     
  15. AresMan

    AresMan Active Member
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    I am guessing maybe that Jesus said it or did it and it was also evidenced in the early church such as in Acts or reiterated in the Epistles.

    My opinion on footwashing: for those who deem it well to do, great. I just think it had to do with the culture at the time. Most people wore sandals and they walked places; therefore, their feet would always be dirty every time they entered someone's house. I don't think there was anything new or revolutionary in the actual act of washing people's feet at the time. It was probably something that a house servant would do for the guests when they stepped in the door. The fact that Jesus being the master of His disciples was washing their feet (as a servant would) was unheard of in that time. I think Peter, being the hyperactive warrior-type that he was at first wanted to feel loyal to the master by refusing to let Him be a servant. Then he thought about Who was washing and figured, "if this is the One Who gives living water, let Him purify my whole body." But that would have destroyed the picture of daily Christian sanctification.

    Today, we wear shoes and drive cars and technically don't need our feet washed from the dust as we entered people's houses. However, if you feel led to wash other's feet I have nothing against it. It's not like it's some charismatic holy laughter and "heavenly" gibberish. [​IMG]
     
  16. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Interesting perspective, AresMan, and some things with which I disagree. I don't think there is any doubt that feet washing for hygiene (and hospitality) was a practice at that time (and for years before and afterward). The common practice, as demonstrated in the Bible, does not appear to be washing the feet of others, but as a good host simply providing a person water to wash their own feet. (cf. e.g. Luke 7:44; Gen. 18:4; 19:2). That is not to say that servants did not wash the feet of guests. I don't think that there is either Biblical or historical evidence of a superior washing the feet of an inferior. There is also Old Testament record of feet washing as a rite associated with the priests.

    I do not think that there is some standard that something has to be new or unknown to be instituted by Christ as a practice for His followers. I'm told that some Jews practiced baptism before the coming of John the Baptist. I've not followed up on this because to me it makes little difference whether they did or did not, since John was "a man sent from God" and his baptism was "from heaven". If someone did practice it before, it certainly would not invalidate John's baptism.

    I like your mention of "the picture of daily Christian sanctification" and am of the opinion that there is some correspondence between Jesus washing His disciples' feet and His daily interceding for His people.
     
  17. genesis12

    genesis12 Member

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    Matthew 15:24 ~ But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

    How does one reconcile that with the ultra-dispensational view that there are no ordnances for the gentile church, the latter not coming into view until Paul's conversion on the Damascus road in Acts 9? In 1 Cor 1:14-17 and in 1 Cor 11:1ff, Paul is anything but dogmatic about water baptism and the Lord's Supper. In fact, he mentions women and men covering or uncovering their heads just as much as the others, no deference to foot-washing; we certainly ignore those today. My fellowship observes water baptism following salvation and the Lord's Supper as ordinances (although they don't call members on the phone if they don't show up for the latter), whereas I do not see either as required, in view of Matthew 15:24. Comments? [​IMG]
     
  18. Preacher @ Bethel

    Preacher @ Bethel New Member

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    First of all I would recommend reading some scriptures concerning foot washing and see what we can find.
    (I Timothy 5:9,10)
    (Luke 7:36-38 , 44-46)
    (John 13:1-17)
    These scriptures are all of the New Testament scriptures that we find mentioning "foot washing".
    It is essentially held by all churches that claim a biblical foundation that there are two church ordinances. Those two are baptism and the Lord's Supper.Now many of these may disagree on how these are to be carried out and what exactly they mean, but they essentially all would agree that there are two church ordinances.There are a comparative few however that hold just as firmly that there are three church ordinances.They believe that this third ordinance would be foot washing. They also believe that it is of just as great of an importance as the other two. So, we want to look at why they claim this and why we do not practice it. The first thing I want us to do is look at what the nature of a church ordinance is, as the bible describes it. Now first of all we find that a church ordinance testifies of the work of Christ, not what we are and not what we do, but what Christ was and what Christ did. For instance when we go down into the baptismal waters we are testifying of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    We are testifying that as He was raised from the grave we are also to be raised up to walk in newness of life. So, we see that baptism speaks of what Christ was and what He did.
    We find the same thing true concerning the Lord's Supper. It speaks of the giving of the body of Christ and the shedding of the blood of Christ.The unleavened bread speaks of the sinlessness of the body of Christ that was given as a sacrifice on Calvary's Cross. The fruit of the vine in the cup speaks of the shedding of the blood from that sinless body in order to save us from our sins.
    So we can find here by looking at these two church ordinances that the nature of a church ordinance is that it testifies to what Christ is and what Christ did. Now what I want to point out also is that foot washing was not a necessary act on Christ's part, but an example for their actions.What I mean by this is for instance had Christ not gone to the cross then His entire life here on earth in the form of a man and essention back into heaven would have been of no real value according to the purpose for which He came. So we find that in the sacrifice of His body, in the shedding of His blood, in His death, burial and resurrection which these ordinances speak of, that they speak of the necessary action on the part of Christ. It was not an example that He gave to us, but the action of the giving of Himself for our salvation. That is what these two ordinances symbolize.You see we don't find this true in the case of foot washing.
    It does not fit into the nature of a church ordinance at all.It was not a necessary action upon the part of Christ, but it was simply an example for their action.In other words it was not something that He needed to do, but rather something He did to show them an example of how they were to act one toward another. (John 13:12-15) You see here we find that He says, I have given you an example.He had given them an example of their enter action of one with another.We also find that the church ordinances show the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. This is the very purpose of them.They both have to do with the sacrificial offering of His body unto death.
    It's not simply an offering of Himself unto service, but the sacrificial offering of His body unto death.Foot washing just does not fit into this mold that we find here so far as the nature of it is concerned.We find these two church ordinances pointing in the same direction, but not at all so concerning foot washing.So, the nature of a church ordinance is not found in foot washing.
    So, let us look at the actual nature of foot washing itself in particular. We find foot washing to be the ministering of a physical and not a spiritual need. That is not to say that there is nothing spiritual about the ministering of that need, because there was indeed a spiritual message in that.
    But the washing of the feet as an act itsself is the ministering of a physical need to the human body. The offering of Christ body did something for us spiritually where as the washing of the feet does not. It does something physical. It cleaned the feet. It was indeed to teach humility, but it also was a physical need in that day and time. To kind of help you understand this a little better let me give an example. In that day and time if they wore anything on their feet at all it would have been a sandal as they traveled along walking through dirt and sand. I would rather imagine that more times then not they probably were bare footed. As you read these scriptures you don't actually hear them telling of anyone removing their sandals or anything of this sort. I rather imagine that they were more than likely bare footed. In either case their feet would certainly get quite dirty even in traveling around in an open sandal. Yes, indeed it was to teach humility by humbly putting yourself in the place of a servant and doing a service for your brother that he had a physical need of. Indeed he would have had this physical need because his feet would have been dirty. You see this was a normal custom of that time. A close friend or loved one would out of love for you put themselves in that place of a servant to do this service for you. It was simply a custom of that time to have had a servant to have washed the honored guests of your homes feet for them.You see we can find here that the nature of foot washing is a service. It is a service of humility. We have shoes and socks to keep our feet clean and for someone to offer to wash your feet would not only be a service that you did not need it would actually be an annoyance to you.
    Foot washing just could not be looked at as a form of worship. If we could actually wash Christ's feet rather than our brother's then you could call that worship. But, the obvious fact is that we can not wash Christ's feet. When Mary washed Christ's feet it would have went beyond the physical service of getting His feet clean it could have also been a form of worship.
    So the entire teaching of foot washing was to teach those disciples to put themselves humbly in the place of service for their brother as far as that love for them was concerned.
    We should love our brothers and sisters in Christ enough to humble ourselves to them in a service of physical need. So, what we find today is that this was not a church ordinance and that the physical need to have your feet washed today is gone so it would show nothing.
    So, we find that this was done to show Christians that they should seek a place of service rather than Lordship.We should seek to give glory and honor rather than to receive it?
    This is what was being taught in this. We realize that the physical need for foot washing no longer exists. We should certainly realize that what was taught by it should greatly be alive in our churches today. Bro. so and so has no physical need of me to wash his feet however, I should still seek to show that humble Christian attitude towards him in all things. I fear that often times Christian humility has all but disappeared. People fight and bicker today to receive honor in stead of to give honor.While foot washing is certainley not a church ordinance we should pray that God would teach us to be humble again.

    By His Grace,
    Preacher @ Bethel
     
  19. genesis12

    genesis12 Member

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    You done good, preach. [​IMG]
     
  20. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Hello, Preacher @ Bethel, welcome to the Baptist Board. It's good to have a sovereign grace landmark Missionary Baptist on board. I'm sure we'll find much on which to agree. With this post, though, I've found a few items with which I disagree.

    I see a problem with not only yours, but most of our attempts to answer "why only two ordinances?". First, it is said there are two ordinances - baptism and the Lord's supper. Then it is said that baptism and the Lord's supper speak of who Christ was and what He did. Therefore, ordinances speak of who Christ was and what He did. Therefore, there are two ordinances. This is a round of circular reasoning which assumes what we are asked to prove.

    Now I'd like to address a few comments you made.

    1. "It is essentially held by all churches that claim a biblical foundation that there are two church ordinances. Those two are baptism and the Lord's Supper."

    If we discuss this in terms of the majority position among Baptists, well and good. It is too much to claim all churches, even those who claim a Biblical foundation, believe in only two ordinances. Southern Baptists always skew comparisons of Baptists because they are so large. But if we look in terms of different kinds of Baptists, possibly a third to nearly half observe the practice of feet washing.

    2. "...a church ordinance testifies of the work of Christ...what Christ was and what Christ did...So we can find here by looking at these two church ordinances that the nature of a church ordinance is that it testifies to what Christ is and what Christ did."

    This is the type of circular reasoning I mention above.

    3. "Now what I want to point out also is that foot washing was not a necessary act on Christ's part..."

    How so? On the contrary, Jesus said, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."

    4. "Foot washing just does not fit into this mold that we find here so far as the nature of it is concerned."

    True, IF we predetermine the mold and predetermine that feet washing doesn't fit. But a decent argument can be made that feet washing does relate to the humbling of Christ in the form of a servant to become obedient to the death of the cross, Cf. Phil. 2:5-8 and Mark 10:42-45.

    5. "We find foot washing to be the ministering of a physical and not a spiritual need. That is not to say that there is nothing spiritual about the ministering of that need, because there was indeed a spiritual message in that. But the washing of the feet as an act itself is the ministering of a physical need to the human body."

    Jesus clearly, by His actions and explanations, was not ministering to a physical need when He washed His disciples feet.

    6. "...it also was a physical need in that day and time...In that day and time if they wore anything on their feet at all it would have been a sandal...I would rather imagine that more times then not they probably were bare footed...You see this was a normal custom of that time...We realize that the physical need for foot washing no longer exists."

    I find several peripheral issues here. The fact that it was a physical need of that day and time does not negate Jesus' charge to wash one another's feet. Shaking hands was a custom long before it came into the church, but I don't hear of Baptists refusing to take the right hand of fellowship because of that. I don't think there is any reason to suppose that these peoples were so primitive that footwear surrounding the foot had not come into existence, that they always went barefooted, etc. But that really doesn't matter. Most everyone accepts the normative reason for the customary practice of foot washing. And just because we live in a society that no longer follows the hygienic custom of foot washing, doesn't mean our feet never need washing, or that other cultures don't still maintain the practice. Either way, these issues only speak to the practice and cannot prove that Jesus could not institute such a practice as a continued symbol for His disciples.

    The bottom line of this thread indicates to me a problem of determining why we believe in only two ordinances, without resorting to circular reasoning that accepts the conclusion without proving it.
     
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